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- 20 Sep 2020, 3 nights
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If any destination in Australia could be crowned the country's surf capital, it would have to be Torquay. This once quiet seaside town on Victoria's coast hosts the Rip Curl Pro international surfing contest every Easter on Bells Beach: a stretch of golden sand with long peeling waves that attracts experienced surfers. In the town, the front is lined with bistros and cafés selling Melbourne-style artisan coffee. Torquay is also the start of the Great Ocean Road: a 243km route that follows the rugged coastline.
Most Torquay hostels are an easy walk from the beach and some rent out surfboards to guests. Many have a common room or a sunny terrace, while others have large shady gardens with communal barbecues where you can whip up an evening meal and share surfing tips with other travellers. Torquay backpackers hostels have dorms as well as private rooms, with free linen and towels available to borrow – saving space in your backpack.
For a hearty meal or a refreshing craft beer, head to The Esplanade on Torquay's seafront. Here, you can stroll from a breakfast café down to the beach, then back up for a burrito at lunchtime. Opposite Torquay Beach is Taylor Park, where you can play Frisbee or simply relax and have a picnic with ocean views. For shopping, wander a couple of streets to the Surf Coast Highway. This is home to the town's flagship surf shops and plenty of other sports outlets.
Torquay is definitely a haven for the surf-obsessed: it has Australia's National Surfing Museum to prove it. There are plenty more activities here too. Hikers can follow the Surf Coast Walk: a trail that begins at Point Impossible Beach (where clothes are optional!) and winds across cliffs and coastline for 44km. At Point Danger Marine Sanctuary, divers and snorkellers can explore a limestone reef with tropical fish, eagle rays and 96 species of sea slugs.
Torquay is just under 4 hours by bus from Melbourne, the capital of Victoria. The international Melbourne Airport is also known as Tullamarine Airport. To travel from here, take the airport shuttle bus to the Skybus Coach Terminal, then a train from Southern Cross to Geelong and a bus from there to Torquay. The journey takes just under 3 hours. PTV and V-line buses run throughout the area, so you can easily get from Torquay centre to Bells Beach in around 10 minutes.